Detroit Red Wings' Daniel Alfredsson Must Become a Difference Maker, and Soon

Matt HutterAnalyst IMarch 11, 2014

Detroit Red Wings right wing Daniel Alfredsson (11), of Sweden, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

There’s no need to rehash what every Detroit Red Wings fan already knows to be true so it’s best to simply state itif this team actually makes the playoffs, it will be by the skin of their teeth.

As Detroit continues to lose players to injury, the need for those among the healthy few remaining players to “step up” or “play a larger role” becomes ever more important.

Sure, this applies to the youngsters like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening, but there’s room for the more seasoned players remaining in Detroit to do the same—players like Daniel Alfredsson.

Alfredsson shocked the hockey world in July by opting to leave Ottawa for a one-year shot at glory in Detroit, but the shock of realizing where the team is now is starting to rise to an equal level.

Instead of fighting to finish first in the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference or the league itself, the Red Wings are in the middle of March with nothing close to a guarantee that they’ll even make the postseason.

Alfredsson sacrificed an unblemished legacy in Ottawa to try and win a Stanley Cup in Detroit and as each game passes, that particular squeeze looks like it wasn’t worth the juice.

Regardless, Alfredsson remains one of the Red Wings' most experienced and highly-talented players and with his team battling for its playoff life, one would hope to see Alfie leading the triage effort.

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 27: Daniel Alfredsson #11 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a first period goal against the Ottawa Senators with team mates Tomas Jurco #26 and Danny DeKeyser #65 during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on February 27, 2014 in O
Jana Chytilova/Getty Images

However, Alfredsson hasn’t scored a goal in six games and has just a single assist over that same timeframe.

As Alfredsson, a right wing, has certainly been challenged by an ever-decreasing talent pool at center, his pedestrian point production still seems incongruent with his ability to make things happen all on his own.

Facing so many injuries and a vicious dogfight for a playoff position since the return for the Olympic break two weeks ago, one would have hoped that Alfredsson would be giving more to this point. One would hope that he’d be among Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist as players who have clearly taken their games to higher levels in an effort to win that aforementioned dogfight.

However, as it stands, Alfredsson has gone cold at just the wrong time.

No one is suggesting that Alfredsson isn’t making an effort or that, despite their dwindling chances, he’s not committed to helping the Red Wings make the playoffs. Both are surely the case.

However, effort doesn’t amount to anything at this point if there’s nothing to show for it. Commitment is essential but useless without results.

Someway, somehow, Daniel Alfredsson must find a way to put his stamp on this team through the remaining 18 games—if not for a playoff berth then for his own personal pride.

If this is to be Alfredsson’s final NHL season, then the last thing he’d want to be remembered for is a cold finish on a history-ending season in Detroit.

Do all the players need to be difference-makers for Detroit at this point? Sure they do.

But Alfredsson in particular has the experience, the talent and, in some sense, the duty to distinguish himself from his peers on what will be a desperate sprint to the finish of what has been an unexpectedly rocky season in Detroit.

The idea of Alfredsson winning a Stanley Cup in Detroit this season now seems to be something close to impossible.

Regardless, Alfie must find a way to make what may very well be his last 18 games in the NHL unforgettable—if not for his team, then for himself.